This article provides information about the impact of population control in states like Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu:
An analysis of states like Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which have registered a drop in population growth, demonstrates other supposedly “extraneous” reasons for the same. Goa despite the strong presence of the church has never been averse to family planning propaganda. It has like Kerala always recorded high female literacy level.
The age at marriage of women has been higher than the rest of India. Kerala with a communist state in power for over two decades in the State and a strong workers’ movement was able to direct economic and social change. Land reforms, regularisation of minimum wages in agriculture and the organised sectors, and premium attention to primary and secondary education ensured social justice and reduction of poverty levels, and thereby created conditions for fertility regulation and decline in population growth.
Tamil Nadu’s experience reveals the role of a strong bureaucracy and political will in popularising the family planning programmes. Known for the self-respect movement spearheaded by Periyar and his strong radical views on caste, status of women and education, marriage and contraception in the 1920s, the political and social climate was already set for implementing birth control programmes. The bureaucracy in Tamil Nadu pioneered the family planning programmes and developed a comprehensive maternal and child welfare programme in the state.
The ‘camp approach’ was also systematically institutionalised in the state. The programme was also decentralised to the district level and was made a special responsibility of the district administrators. Components of teaching or awareness building, extension or instructions about contraceptive services and ‘after care’ services to persons who undergo vasectomy was included in the programme. Popular initiatives (funded by International agencies) like midday meals for over 9 million school children, which also generated employment for over two hundred thousand women in the villages, further helped in building a mass base for the programme.
Evidently the supply driven services of fertility and population regulation have to be complemented by the principle of demand for these services. The demand or motivation for fertility regulation has to be created by concerned citizens, organisations and the government. Increasingly it is clear that a target- oriented programme of population control is narrow and does not address the larger social, political and economic issues that perpetuate conditions of poverty, illiteracy and ill health.
Any policy framework for population control has to create favourable conditions for economic, social and political equality as well as environment friendly economic growth. Bureaucratic efficiency and good governance are also at the heart of a successful delivery system of health services. Unless this multi-pronged approach is adopted and implemented with right earnest, containing population growth will be difficult, if not impossible.